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tv   New Day  CNN  January 26, 2018 4:00am-5:00am PST

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>> don mcgann saved the president from a major, major political crisis. >> he is totally irrelevant because he didn't fire mueller. >> just because he didn't do it in june doesn't mean he doesn't want to do it in january. there is a crisis hanging over the white house right now. >> they are talking about a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented people. >> some republicans not too happy about parts of this plan. they think the president is giving away too much. >> this quote, unquote compromise is a force. >> it will make neither liberals nor conservative happy. >> this is "new day" with chris cuomo and alisyn camerota. >> good morning, everyone. welcome to your "new day". chris is sauf. jo off. >> breaking news across the continent. >> we do begin with breaking news. president trump dismissing the bombshell reports he tried to fire special counsel robert mueller last june but then
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backed off. a source tells cnn that white house counsel don mcgann refused that order. it could be a key piece of evidence for special counsel as they try to decide whether or not they're looking at obstruction of justice. >> there is a legal debate how significant this might be to the investigation. but there is no debate that if the story is true, and cnn has confirmed them, the white house and the president lied about whether the president ever considered firing bob mueller. they lied repeatedly. in the midst of all of this, cnn learned the president is growing increasingly frustrated with chief of staff john kelly who did not travel with the president to davos. he's not there. in about an hour, the president will address leaders at the world economic forum. we will bring you that when it happens. jeff he zelly live in davos with breaking news >> reporter: john, good morning. there are new questions about
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inquiries about the president and the russia probe. remember in the weeks after the firing of the fbi director, the president was fewer kwroes when there was special counsel setup. friends and advisers were telling us at the time he was worried this could unravel many things. from his tax returns to other matters here. now, this is coming full circle. it is is being reported that he was threatening to fire hum. of course his top lawyer at the white house stopped all of that. many advisers believed it would be politically untenable to do that. we heard from the president this morning on this directly as he entered the forum at davos. this is what he said. >> fake news, folks. fake news. typical "new york times" fake stories. thank you. take care.
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thank you very much. >> those are the questions of course being asked for the president. he is not answering them, revert to go his old line, fake news. we know at the moment back in may and june the president was not happy that there was a special counsel name to this. of course he has learned so much more to that. always important to keep in mind the president and his lawyers know more about this than they do. they know what questions are coming. this will come to a head if the president ever sits down with mueller. of course earlier this week he said he would. his lawyers say, whoa, we need to negotiate the details of that. one thing is the speech coming up next hour in davos. >> we will cover that live next. thank you for that background. we are joined by "new york times" white house correspondent maggie haberman and maggie and michael schmidt, her colleague, broke the story about firing robert mueller. it is great to have you here so
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you can walk us through all of your reporting. i think this is fair to call it a bombshell. this is the scenario that millions of americans feared may happen. democrats have feared for a long time that the president did try to fire robert mueller was stopped by don mcgann, white house counsel. what can you tell us? >> what the white house will say is mueller is still there, so clearly nothing happened. but what we have learned is that last june the president relayed to advisers that he wanted mueller fired. and don mcgann threatened to quit. at the time the president was considering three issues as possible conflicts of interest. one was a dispute over fees at a golf club that mueller had been a member of, never completely understood what was that about. it was seen widely by legal
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experts i spoke with as a flimsy reason. the second reason was mueller had, up until that point, worked at the law firm that also employed a lawyer for jared kushner, the president's son-in-law. and the third was mueller had interviewed to be the enter is eupl fbi director replacing james comey and could be a witness in the case. the last was the only one that had even sort of a whiff of credibility about it. it made no actual sense as a conflict. the last two, i would point out, both issues were pushed out by trump advisers at the time on background to discredit mueller and not to say and therefore he should be fired but to stoke the perception that he should not be in the job that he was in. but also at the time, chris ruddy of news max went on tv, and i think on this show, said that he had a reporting that the president was seriously considering robert mueller. the white house denied this.
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people denigrated how frequently he talks to the president. that was true. >>. >> let's put up the sound. it's true. it's not fake news. dow not report fake news. kellyanne conway and the president lied, flat-out lied. let's play the sound here. >> while the president has the right to, he has no intention to do so. >> the president has not even discussed that. the president is not discussing firing bob mueller. >> but will he commit not to fire? >> he is -- has not discussed firing bob mueller. >> i have not given it any thought. i heard from it from you people. >> is there any chance at all that the president will try to fire robert mueller? >> i saw a couple people talking
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about that this morning and the answer is no. >> no, i'm not. no. >> the president flat-out said he never thought about it. that's a lie. kellyanne conway said he never discussed it. that, too, is a lie. >> i don't know why you're zeroing in on kellyanne conway. the president had approved his son's statement about a meeting with the russian lawyer. he went on and insisted that was false. so this is a pattern and habit. and we are aware of that. but it is a problem for several reasons. they will say at the white house it is not a crime to lie to the media. and that is true. but there are times when you need your credibility. and the fact that this was not true and the people who were denying it at the time have acknowledged to me that it was true is a problem. it's a problem for people who want to accomplish policy, for
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people who want to take into their own accounts. >> listen to this what the president said in davos. >> fake news, folks, fake news. typical "new york times" fake stories. thank you. fake news. >> on okay. maggie, obviously we know when the president says fake news, that is code for a story i don't like. but why doesn't he own this? he's already been on on the record saying he doesn't consider things obstruction. he considers it fighting back. he thinks it is his prerogative. his lawyers said it would be legal for him to fire robert mueller. why doesn't he own this? >> number one, it has become ingrained in his head by his legal team. it changed hands back in june.
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his lead counsel was his long term personal lawyer. the strategy by ty cobb the front on this who works out of the white house has been full transparency. a lot of it is is not to be too antagonist antagonistic. there's also the quality that you are very well aware of. if you write something he doesn't like, he will say it is not true saying the opposite. i don't know that there is much more thinking going into that. let's see how he handles it throughout the day. >> they put no time frame on it. they could have literally been saying he's not talking about it right now. i want to go back to june. at the time what was going on inside the white house and the country. june 7th, the comey memo was released, talking about the
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interactions of james comey the fired fbi director had with the president. he testified before congress. robert mueller began interviewing and requesting interviews with people inside the white house and the intelligence committee about all of this. and the president blasted it as a witch-hunt saying robert mueller was now investigating obstruction. do you know when exactly the president ordered robert mueller to be fired? >> i don't know the specific date in june. it was at some point in june. if you look back at the clips when chris ruddy was talking about this, i think it was june 12th or 13th. i would assume it was sometime around then. >> why doesn't the president just do it himself? why does he need don mcgann, white house counsel, to carry out this directive? >> he doesn't usually fire people directly, as we know. i would not expect this to be any different. >> despite celebrity apprentice
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aside, which he was to do -- >> you're fired was created by essentially a promotional team. that is not something that donald trump was ever known for in his real life or has been sense. >> a lot of people want to know who the sources are and i would never ask what the sources are. we know stories are out because people are trying to send messages here. he is one of the biggest consumers of media on planet earth right now. so what message should the president be getting from this? is one of the messages, look, rocket mueller looked at this. look, your session with robert mueller might be really dicey because he knows things that indicate you may have lied in public. >> i think that the reporting speaks for itself and everybody likes to assume that everything take place for a reason because
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reporters are searching for a story. what the president takes from the content of the story, mcgann has spoken with robert mueller. so i guess -- i don't know the specifics of what he told him. our understanding is that mueller is aware of this. he will take it and do what he's going to do. in my conversations with people at the white house this week, they're not concerned he's going to fire mueller going forward. there is widespread belief that has been dealt with. they are very worried he will talk to federal investigators. he posted the other day he is looking forward to it. and he will walk himself into a very, very troublesome spot because lying to federal investigators, whether under oath or not, is a crime. >> i goodings that's what i was getting at. as we play that sound, the president has lied about this in public. if he goes and testifies to rocket mueller and says the same type of thing, it won't fly. >> right. i could see a world where the president goes in and gives a
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lesser version of this. the president historically i will say despite his pretty well documented penchant for untruths from either his approach on the white house, as candidate or as a real estate developer, if you watch the videos of his depositions or read them and lawsuits he's been involved with over the years, he does seem to be where the line is. >> i agree with you. when you read those, he's more disciplined than, say, twitter. he does have experience or at least ann antenna. you say he has interviewed 20 white house staffers. and it is just interesting to think about the moment that robert mueller finds out that donald trump wanted him in fact,
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fired. i'm sure he considered that possibility. >> it's funny. we were in the oval office in july he would not point out he would not fire phaoeurl. he wanted that known at the time. the president's advisers said this is a way to make sure mueller is fair. that's how it was put back then. so i think mueller has known this is something that this president was capable of talking about for a while. but, yes, i suspect there was probably an arched eyebrow moment. but he is a pro and former fbi director and has done this for a long time and has seen a lot. >> one scoop is not enough for you. you have to have two. >> overachiever. >> making us look back. there is tension, new tension between the chief of staff and the president or the president
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and the chief of staff. you mentioned this yesterday that the president's walk through of what was supposed to be a background was intended to send the message that you work for me, pal. look, it's not as high as we have seen it be from other aides who have come and gone. kelly just sort of doesn't care is my understanding. he doesn't respond is the way he is used to responding to him. or even his irritation. every relationship with donald trump has a shelf life. usually speaking the clock starts to catholic. when he went on fox news saying the president was not informed about a border wall. it feels like eight years ago, but i think it was two weeks ago. once that happened that began the countdown on how much longer this relationship could stay anything close to this anyway.
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>> that is so true, maggie. i think we have all learned the hard way. the president tires of people. >> yes. >> he can be fickle. >> yeah. >> even without crossing him, even without a dustup, he gets tired of people. >> correct. >> so is there any plan for if john kelly himself gets tired and bouws out. >> the names of possible replacements are really circulating outside the building more than inside. for people who know the president well. they said there is no change. he wasn't angry with kelly. kelly told him he was going to have reporters into his office. i heard that the president is caught off guard. he didn't learn from someone else. he learned from kelly. it was literally like being drawn uncontrollably to a source
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of oxygen. there was a bunch of reporters in the office. it reminded kelly, again, who was in charge. there is conflicting information about exactly how tired the -- his chief of staff, the president, is. several people i spoke with have known the president for a very long time, described it as unmistakable turning of the screw. >> i love the idea of a shelf life for people who work for the president. they are like the twinkie. it never gets old. is john can kelly the only thing now keeping the president under this new regime of discipline? and i put that in quotation works because everything is relative, maggie. but is he the only one keeping the phone calls at a minimum, the access at a minimum. without john kelly does the dam bre break.
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>> kelly has not been great about controlling the president. i don't know that that is possible. he created a much more orderly structure. what several people have said is kelly stopped the leaks. he didn't. that is clearly not true. but it is the sense of psychological warfare playing out in the press in the days of jared kushner versus steve bannon. that felt like the wild west. people feel safer. ivanka trump sometimes vented her frustration about john kelly. it's interesting. i asked about that. she put out a statement defending kelly, which surprised me. attesting to her faith in him. i do think they all recognize there is a need to have kelly there to make the staff safe from each other and the staff frankly safe from the president. i do think he is a key person. he is a key person with his own
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policy views. >> particularly this immigration debate. >> we did read that statement from ivanka that you got. basically she said their bond has never been stronger. they're in a particular tight-knit moment. >> two things can be true at once. the staff is feeling better and that a devolution has begun. >> maggie haberman, thanks for being with us. >> thank you, guys. the president will address world leaders at 8:00 a.m. eastern. in the midst of all of this going on, that will be something. we'll bring it live to you when it happens what are lawmakers in washington saying about maggie's bombshell report? we hear from a democratic congressman what he wants to do next. - [narrator] imagine socks that actually make you
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proud sponsor of the olympic winter games 2018. we know life can be hectic. that's why, at xfinity, we've been working hard to simplify your experiences with us.
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now, with instant text and email updates, you'll always be up to date. you can easily add premium channels, so you don't miss your favorite show. and with just a single word, find all the answers you're looking for - because getting what you need should be simple, fast, and easy. download the xfinity my account app or go online today. >> a source tells cnn president trump ordered the firing of special counsel robert mueller but backed off when the "new york times" said his white house counsel threatened to resign. these were dismissed as fake news. jim himes is a member of the house intelligence committee. great to see you this morning.
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>> good morning. >> this is what you and other democrats have come on our air and said was sort of their worst fear or worst-case scenario that you assumed to play out. it turns out it almost came to pass. the president tried to fire robert mueller in june. what's your reaction? >> well, it's not just democrats, alisyn. this is really fundamentally or at least should not be a partisan issue. if the president is being investigated, if anybody is being investigated, the investigation should be allowed to play out. obviously in this case firing robert mueller would be a massive political problem, as his lawyer recognized if the story is to be believed could be a couple of very big steps towards obstruction of justice. finally, alisyn, there is something we can do about this and must do about this. congress should pass legislation that essentially gives the special counsel statutory
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standing so they are not fireable. >> where are you on that? we hear democrats say it is time to pass legislation. where are you on that? >> well, needless to say, given republican control of both houses, it hasn't exactly been on a greased rail in the united states congress. look, the president of the united states said there's nothing there. it's a hoax. no collusion. if that is true there is not a single reason for anybody to oppose the legislation, which would, you know, give special counsel protection from being fired by you this guy who says he's innocent. >> you know what, congressman, he doesn't exactly frame it the way you are. he is a little bit more specific. he said it wouldn't be obstruction. in other words, his lawyer has gone so far as to say it can't be obstruction. because its is the president's prerogative. is so it cannot be obstruction.
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and the president has framed it as fighting back. the white house has not denied it. the president, you're right, called that fake news. his lawyers say they are not going to comment. however, he has said of things like this, this is just fighting back. and he's allow onned to fight back. >> yeah. and both those points, there's something to them. his whole brand is about fighting back. it doesn't mean we can fight back by pulling out knives and killing people. the president is technically obviously the head of the executive branch and has authority over the executive branch. that doesn't mean the president can perform an illegal act. here's where you get to intent. if the president fired the fbi director jim comey or if he were to fire mueller with the intent of stopping an investigation, the president is not above the law. that would be, if the intent was to stop an investigation, obstruction of justice.
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>> from what you have seen today from the "new york times" and cnn reporting in terms on of of wanting to fire robert muler and don mcgann stopping him, do you consider that obstruction of justice? >> you know, he didn't actually fire mueller. so no act was committed. now, that takes us back to jim comey who did get fired. and the president goes on lester holt and said he did it to make the russia thing go away. that's a much more serious episode. what it does do is shows intent. it is not surprising. i don't think the president -- this is not a subtle legal mind. i think the president sees a problem in front of him and says i'm going to solve this problem by making it go away. that is why his lawyer stepped in and said, sir, you're not going to do this. that this is puts you three-quarters of a way to obstruction of justice. >> i want to see what you think on the attacks on the fbi, this rumor, this innuendo of a secret society.
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here is where senator ron johnson started and then what he said yesterday about this secret society. >> i can't ignore these texts. i can't ignore the unvarnished narrative from two individuals high up in the fbi that have contact with the director and'd mccabe. >> this secret society seems to be in jest. do you believe it was in jest? >> it is certainly a possibility. >> from the existence of subversive secret society to yesterday, it's possible it was a joke. what is senator ron johnson doing? >> he is doing what sadly so many members have been doing, seizing on rumor, seizing on
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fantasy to create doubt around the integrity of the fbi. it is sad to say. when right wing radio hosts do this, it's one thing. when united states senators and congressman sacrifice their integrity and their legacy, ron johnson will be reminded of that 20 years from now when he seized on one rumor of a text that might have mentioned a secret society to allege that there was corruption at the highest levels of the fbi. you have traded your integrity for the sugar high of, you know, a moment on fox supporting the president. a president, by the way, who would stab you in the back if he had the opportunity. >> so why are they doing that? beyond the sugar high, why are they doing that? >> they are doing that because the white house -- you said it. the white house is constantly generating ideas like, oh, he is just fighting back, and the president has the right to obstruct justice. and devin nunes comes up with the four-page memo which i knew immediately it was a shoddy piece of work. it is is the service of he feeting the right-wing narrative
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that the fbi and doj are corrupt. to see the republican party, which usually stands for law enforceme enforcement, do everything they can and, as i said, trade their integrity to damage this stored american institution is a sad thing to watch. >> i'm almost out of time. very quickly you called it a shoddy memo, this mystery memo that no one in the public knows. do you have a counter mystery memo to counter devin nunes's mystery memo? >> we are working on a memo which is more about the facts. look, you don't even need to trust the democrats on this. you saw the letter that the department of justice sent which basically said two things. it would be dangerous to ex months the classified information. what does it tell you devin nunes will not share this with the very people he is accused of wrongdoing or even senate republicans. it should tell you about the integrity and the quality of
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that memo. >> congressman himes, thank you very much. nice to talk to you. >> thank you, alisyn. >> president trump's lawyer says a president cannot commit obstruction of justice. is that true? we're going to ask a former trump white house lawyer next.
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a source tells cnn president trump order the firing of robert mueller but backed after after white house counsel don mcgann refused the order and threatened to resign. president trump, his aides and his legal team repeatedly denied this and on several occasions just denied what was discussed. >> while the president has the right to, he has no intention to do so. >> the president has not even discussed that. the president is not discussing firing bob mueller. >> but will he commit not to fire? >> he is cooperating with -- he has not even discussed firing bob mueller. >> i haven't given it any thought. i have been reading about it from you people. you say, oh, i'm going to dismiss him. i'm not dismissing anybody. >> are you considering firing
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robert mueller? >> no, not at all. >> is there any chance that the president will try to fire robert mueller? >> no. i saw a couple of people talking about that this morning. and the answer to that is no. >> no, i'm not. no. >> all right. joining us now michael smerconish host of "smerconish." gentlemen, housekeeping with you here, jim, because of your proximity to everything being reported this morning. you were inside the white house counsel's office. did the president say he wanted to fire robert mueller? >> well, i have no inside information regarding what he did or didn't say. that wasn't part of my portfolio while i was in the white house. >> you never heard him say that he wanted to fire robert mueller? >> no. and i couldn't talk about it even if i d. so let's move on from that. >> hang on. i just want to get to this
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quickly and then get to a bigger issue because i think it is important. any knowledge did you ever he ever hear that he threatened to quit to stop the president from firing robert mueller. >> i wouldn't be able to do it under my obligations anyway. >> have you testified to special counsel? we have heard eight lawyers, eight people have? >> again, i wouldn't be sitting here today if i had been interviewed. so the answer to that is no as well because of my ethical obligations having left the white house recently. >> good. now, that we have that behind us, what is your take on the reporting that cnn has confirmed that the president said he wanted to fire robert muler and don mcgann threatened to quit if he did. >> it isn't ta much of a bombshell story. what you have here. and let's assume for a second a discussion regarding conflicts of interest and potential issues
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regarding robert mule sper potential conflicts in representing jared kushner, the issues of the trump golf property and so on and so forth. it is his job to go talk with the boss, give him the best legal advice. and it appears to the extent these reports are true, if he did give that advice, the president followed it. so i don't know what the big deal is. >> why create a pretext if truth is on on your side? it hardly seems a basis to fire robert mueller because he once misplaced your 9 iron at the golf club. so why create those examples if you've really got a legitimate basis to want him fired. it reminds me, john, the stated purpose of getting rid of jim comey because the rosenstein paper trail said what? he so mishandled the hillary
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clinton he mail investigation the relevance is that intent is key when you talk about obstruction. if in fact, the president's intent was simply to fight back, if the intent was to go after a bogus investigation that wastes resources and distracts from delivering middleclass jobs, why not say that? why doesn't the paper trail say that instead of tkprudrumming u excuses to get rid of the guy? >> you're right. that in and of itself does not have any pertinence here. but the fact that he wanted to or tried to, does that influence an investigation into why he ultimately fired james comey or why he may have asked james comey to back off the michael flynn investigation.
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is there this pattern that he is alluding to? >> the "new york times" created this narrative byway of the story and identified concerns that they had to handle the matter from a conflict of interest perspective. assuming all of that is true and the "new york times" is correctly reporting this, be on its face he was asking regarding conflicts of interest. it is the white house counsel's job to address those potential questions. he did so, according to news reports. and if that's the case, if all of this is true, don mcgann did the right thing and the president did the right thing. >> the "new york times" story, which has now been corroborated, and pushed forward by cnn and other news organizations, the president tried to fire robert muler and don mcgann stopped him. and they went into some of the details of what the reasons were. michael smerconish calls them pretexts and not the real thing here. so, michael, you're a lawyer
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also here. if you're robert mueller looking at this now, where does this fit in to your investigation, michael? >> well, i think it really makes the upcome canning investigation, if the president is right, it is in the next two to three weeks, the upcoming interview of the president pertaining to the investigation. the stakes go up. and it is one more indication that mueller knows far more than the rest of us watching from the inside in. therein lies the dangers for the president. we heard him say en route to davos saying he is looking forward to that and then offered the caveat, if lawyers allowed him to go through with it. i would be shocked, if he wasn't counseled to stay away from an under oath conversation. it makes it difficult for him himself to be the questioner of the president given the personal stakes now. >> we don't know if he would be
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the questioner. he has pitbulls who sometimes we think are doing a lot of this questions. jim, should the president sit down for an interview if you were advising him? go answer questions for special counsel's team? >> i don't have the facts. none of us have the facts as to whether or not they have the facts. i would negotiate with the lawyers to perhaps have something up front that is in writing and written questions to respond to and limit the scope to those questions. that's probably what i would do. >> let me ask you this. you are willing to stipulate that maybe the president had discussions about firing robert mueller. kellyanne conway said flat out he never did. based on these reports this
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morning, do you acknowledge those apparently were lies in. >> i did not saying i was willing to stipulate. i said let's assume for a second they were true. if we are going to speak in hypothetical terms, then that's how i was addressing the question. >> okay. if they did discuss it, what kellyanne conway and the president, what they said would be lies? >> well, i don't know the facts. you don't know the facts. the white house is responding to allegations. the white house has an obligation to advise the public. they're doing that. they have made statements. i'm not going to get into who was telling the truth and who doesn't because none of us have the facts. >> a busy morning with a lot of interesting things going on. appreciate your time. >> thank you. >> reminder, we will carry the president's address at the world economic forum that is going on in the middle of all of this. how will he look? how will he address this at 8:00
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a.m. eastern time. >> sources tell cnn that president trump wanted to fire special counsel robert mueller. did mr. trump obstruct justice? former attorney general alberto gonzales with his thoughts next.
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according to the "new york times" he backed off after don mcgann threatened to quit rather than carry out the order. is this obstruction of justice? we discuss with former counsel to george w. bush, alberto justice, dean of belmont university college of law and author of "true faith and allegiance a story of sacrifice in war and peace" dean gonzalez, thanks for being here. >> good morning. >> giving an order to fire robert mueller, is that obstruction of justice? >> first of all, there's so much here, alisyn, i don't know how much of this is true. i don't know whether or not president trump actually gave an order. >> let me just tell you that you and the viewers understand cnn has confirmed the story. the "new york times" has multiple sources on this. so highly legitimate outlets with legitimate sources said have said this. >> let's just assume what's being reported is actually true.
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as to whether or not there is obstruction of justice, i would have to know the motivation be haoeupb behind the order of the president. was he concerned the investigation was out of control? that the investigation itself was corrupt. or was the order given in order to stop the the investigation of possible wrongdoing by the president himself or by senior officials in the administration or in the campaign. so there's still a lot of information we don't know. >> i think what you're getting at, and with he what we have heard from legal experts, it is about intent. >> that's correct. >> you are not willing to say obstruction of justice unless you know the intent was to scuttle the russia investigation. >> that is correct. you could have a special prosecutor that is out of control, that isn't, you know -- that the president should rightly and the attorney general and deputy attorney general should rightly be concerned with -- >> right. but do you think robert mueller is out of control?
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>> based on what i have observed, no. i have great confidence in robert mueller and the investigation. it's not a perfect investigation. there's some things that i think bob mueller i think would like to do over differently if given the opportunity. but i have confidence in bob mueller. >> we hear time and again he has a sterling reputation. so given that and knowing that and knowing >> listen, i don't know all the facts here and i scant get into the president's mind. i think it would be irresponsible for me to reach that kind of conclusion, alisyn. obviously this is something that bob mueller is going to get to the bottom of. >> we heard michael smerconish say why try to fire robert mueller if the truth is on your side? >> that's an interesting point. sometimes in an investigation other people may not give the whole truth and you're worried about what other people have said. you may be quite comfortable testifying or giving --
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interviewing the the counsel. others may not have been truthful. you want to be careful. you may be totally innocent. no one wants to go into an interview by the special counsel. i think anyone should be concerned about an investigation even though you may have done absolutely nothing wrong. >> you have told us before that when you were in the white house that president george w. bush would never have made a request like this. he knew when there was an investigation, to stay as far away from it as possible, to not meddle. are you comfort that president trump made the request of white house counsel don mccann to fire robert mueller? >> the protocol for us would be to stay as far away from the investigation as possible. if i would have been the counsel and the president e expressed concern to me, i would have had a conversation with the deputy attorney general that hired the special counsel, and i would have said, people in the white house are concerned about this
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investigation. what do you think about it? and then i might also say, people in the white house are actually thinking about having the special counsel removed. what do you think about that? >> i would take that information back to the white house v conversation with the white house counsel. i'm not sure i would have a conversation with the president. i would wait to see whether or not the president actually gives the order to fire the special counsel. at that point i could tell the president, listen, i've had a conversation with the deputy attorney general. if we do this, this is what the deputy attorney general is going to do. do you want to do this? this is the way i would handle it. i don't know the relationship don mcgann has with the chief of staff or the president of the united states or the deputy attorney general. i'm saying this is how i think this would have been handled in the bush white house. to get to your initial point, it never would have gotten this far. >> that's really helpful to hear how you would have done it at all of the rungs along the way.
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if you determine that the investigation is legitimate and the special counsel was operating with good intent and good credentials, would you have offered to quit as a result if that request was made of you? >> i think what i would have done is communicated the president's directive to the deputy attorney general. it's the deputy attorney general that will make the final decision as to whether or not to remove the special counsel. now, the deputy attorney general, knows roesenstein, woud have said i'm not going to do that. it's very difficult for me because of my relationship with president bush and the kind of person that i know that he is, and i also know that andy carr, the chief of staff would have stood behind me 100%. >> i understand. and i hear you. it's inconceivable for you to imagine a scenario like this. so was it wrong? was the president's request to have bob mueller fired wrong?
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>> again, one thing i would have to know, understand fully is what is the purpose behind this order? is the president concerned -- it may be that i don't agree with the president's assessment that the investigation is out of control. he may truly believe that. or is this an effort to stop an investigation of possible wrongdoing? it's not as easy as simply laying out the question. i think it requires some very careful soul searching and fact-finding before making a decision as to whether or not it was wrong. this will be a conclusion reached by bob mueller. >> alberto gonzales, we appreciate your perspective. in the midst of all of this this morning, the president any minute will walk on that stage and address world leaders at the world economic forum. how will he, will he at all address the situation now and the new questions arising here
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in the united states as, once again, he travels overseas and questions about scandal bubble. we'll carry that speech for you live next.
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plus first shipping. life hurts, feel better. good morning everyone. welcome to your "new day." it's friday, january 26. 8:00 in the east. chris is off. john berman joins me. >> a big speech ahead in light of a lot of other information. >> here are live pictures for you from the world economic forum. you see president trump preparing for a big speech. he will take the stage moments from now at this world economic forum in davos, switzerland. the president's address is set not only against the swiss alps, but also the bombshell reports here at home, that he tried to have robert mueller fired. the president dismissing those reports by multiple news organizations, including cnn, that he ordered mueller to be fired last june. according to "the new york times" the president backed off
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his request after white house counsel don mcgann refused the order and threatened to resign. >> these revelations could be a key piece of evidence for the special counsel robert mueller if, in fact, he is trying to build an obstruction of justice case against the president. we will discuss how important that is or is not. one thing that is crystal clear, if the reports are true, and we think they are, the president and white house aides have lied and lied repeatedly about whether the president ever discussed firing robert mueller. we want to begin our coverage live over where you're looking at right now in davos, switzerland, where the president is getting ready to speak. jeff zeleny is there. >> reporter: good morning, john, you're right. the allegations of obstruction of justice are the centerpiece of this potential investigation. as the president takes the stage there, just a short time ago this morning, he addressed the news reports overnight about his interest in firing robert mueller. this is w


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